Monday, May 12, 2014

America’s Education Bubble

By Pascal Dennis

Much (justified) talk these days about students’ crushing debt loads.

In fact, BusinessWeek suggests that student debt represents the next big threat to the US economy.

The problem is especially acute in America where tuition costs have soared the past few decades.

(They’ve also increased in UK, Canada and parts of the EU, but nowhere near as much.)

Critics suggest the US government has inadvertently created an education bubble in the same way it created the housing bubble – by offering cheap credit.

Encouraged thereby, students and their parents, make financially ruinous decisions. (A Google search on student debt will produce heart-rending stories.)

My heart goes out to them – their motivation is noble. But the damage is done and the fiddler must be paid.

What to do?

For a start, recognize the problem. Avoid colleges that charge 50, 60, 70 thousand per semester!

Recognize that administrators there may have lost sight of what’s most important.

Here’s a bit of homework for you: How much has college executive pay risen the past decade?

(Mama mia, you could stay at a nice Hyatt or Marriott hotel for less than that, all the while studying at the growing number of on-line colleges!)

Secondly, think long and hard about the purpose of college. What do you want to achieve (or help your son or daughter achieve)?

Recognize, as outlined in my last blog, the limitations of college.

Understand that you won’t learn how to manage or lead at college.

Be practical in your studies. Learn stuff that’s helpful to people.

As for the broader education bubble, I’m hopeful that people will recognize it and make better decisions.

I’m also hopeful that on-line education will continue to grow in popularity and importance.

Colleges need much more competition, students’ needs better options.



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